It is always nice when you come across accounts of people actually getting through disasters and learning what they did to survive and stay afloat. In the case of the refugees in Europe from Middle East, life in a refugee camp sure is challenging and there’s lots of lessons to be learned.
I found this article in La Nacion about refugees in Idomeni, Greece. Los refugiados apelan a una imaginación inagotable. The article is in Spanish but these are the most interesting accounts:
Rachid, a 36 year old mechanic from Iraq, makes a living in the camp by working as a barber. “Each day it rains is a day I don’t get to work” he complains about the Greek weather ruining his “business” which consists of a couple chairs set among the tents, a couple scissors and combs.
Rachid and his brother rented a generator “ I prefer to work even at night”. he states proudly. His brother Faisal is in charge of the “communications” business, charging the cell phones of other refugees for a fee.
Syrian Malik set up a General Store in the camp: Peppers, lemons, tomatoes and canned greens. He buys most of the produce he sells from the nearby farms. His cousin Ali sells fruits, four boxes of oranges and applies which he refills twice a day.
“With just 3 Euros our women can do miracles, prepare meals from back home” says Abdulá Kamir, a Syrian IT that grew tired of the bombings back home.
But the business that really booms in the refugee camp is the sale of prepaid phone cards. These are useful not only for calling family back home and those already in the countries of destination, but also to keep up to date regarding the situation in the different frontiers and the changing regulations in each country. Samir (20), Omar (20) and Mustafá (23) make a living providing these, which they consider their trade secret. “The day we reveal how we get our intel is the day we are left without a business”. Edith Duncan, a British nurse volunteers, says they are the three most popular people in the camp “wherever you see a crowd of people, there you will find one of them” she says.
Hazan, eight years old, sets a few packs of cigarettes on top of a box “¡Marlboro! ¡Marlboro!” he shouts, selling cigarettes to help his older brother, age twelve, who also works. Hazan claims he will own a grocery store chain in Munich when he grows up.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.